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Howick Coastguard encourage boat checks

ROSE CAWLEY
Last updated 05:00 13/12/2012

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Boaties are urged to get their boats mechanically checked before taking to the water for summer.

In just one week Howick Coastguard members attended five callouts and volunteered almost 11 hours to rescuing people off the water because of mechanical issues with their craft. These included a fuel leak, mechanical faults, a steering issue and a flat battery - which could have been avoided.

Coastguard skipper Alan Martin says about half of all callouts are because of mechanical issues.

"Often boats have been sitting in backyards over winter with the expectation that they will be the same as last year," he says.

"It is really important to do some maintenance at the start of the season, have a mechanic check the engine and batteries over at least annually."

He suggests people be mindful of power draining from batteries while they are fishing, just as they would be mindful of a car battery if they were listening to the radio in a parked car.

"Be careful about running radios, CD players and other add-ons from the boat batteries while fishing."

Otherwise you may not be going anywhere quickly, he says.

One of the five rescues involved a call at 8pm to a 5.5-metre open aluminium boat in The Firth of Thames with four people on board.

The boat was unable to be started because of a fuel leak and by the time the Coastguard arrived it was 9pm.

"Darkness had fallen and the people were unable to identify the area where they had left their car and trailer.

"It took us 2 hours with searchlights running along the Kaiaua coastline to find their launch point," Mr Martin says.

Howick Rescue One returned to Howick Beach at midnight.

A day on the water is meant to be idyllic but that can all be thrown overboard if mechanical checks have not been maintained, he says.

In a daytime rescue Howick Coastguard responded to Ponui Island for a 5.5-metre boat with one person on board.

The boat had a steering failure requiring a tow to Pine Harbour Marina.

At Ponui they also jump-started another boat with a flat battery.

Almost four hours later the crew made it back to Eastern Beach.

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- Eastern Courier

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